Filipino killed, 9 others injured in Saudi truck blast, says DFA
MANILA, Philippines—A Filipino was killed and nine of his compatriots were injured when a fuel truck exploded after hitting portions of a bridge Thursday in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, engulfing buildings and cars in flames, officials said.
Philippine foreign affairs spokesman Raul S. Hernandez said that one of the 22 people killed was a Filipino truck driver. The family of the truck driver has been notified, according to DFA.
About 110 were injured, witnesses and officials said.
In his Twitter post, Hernandez said: “1 Filipino was killed in Riyadh fuel truck explosion, 9 in hospitals, 3 discharged. Embassy continues to check.”
Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ezzedin Tago said in a cable television news interview that the employer of the Filipinos has assured it will answer the needs of the victims.
The death toll was a significant increase in the number of reported casualties than in the first hours after the 7 a.m. explosion near the Saudi National Guard building in an industrial area in the city’s eastern district. Columns of smoke could be seen rising from scene.
There was no immediate suspicion of terrorist links based on witness accounts.
Officials said rescue crews had not finished the search and the death toll was still not final.
All the officials and witnesses spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
The truck veered into a bridge pylon at a junction on Khurays Road in Riyadh at about 7:30 a.m., causing a gas leak that spread out and then burst into flames, destroying nearby cars and a business, the officials told news-wire Agence France Presse.
An AFP photographer at the scene reported widespread damage to the area, with dozens of cars mangled by the blast and burned out.
A bus that had been gutted by the fire stood idle on the flyover, with witnesses saying that the vehicle had been transporting workers whose fate remained unknown.
Another truck fell off the bridge due to the impact of the explosion, the witnesses said.
Amateur video footage posted on the Internet showed thick black smoke billowing from different spots around the flyover whose pylons were also damaged.
Civil defense personnel carried two “completely charred” bodies from the site.
Civil defense spokesman in Riyadh, Mohammed al-Hammadi, said the explosion took place after gas leaked from the tank of the truck, according to SPA state news agency.
“The explosion and fire happened after leaked gas filled the area. Huge damage happened, in addition to many traffic collisions,” he said, adding there were fatalities without specifying how many.
Hammadi said a nearby show yard of construction machinery was severely damaged by the explosion. With AFP and Associated Press
Originally posted: 10:02 pm | Thursday, November 1st, 2012
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